How is this year going for you? If you’re like most of the leaders I talk to, even as the world returns to “normal,” you’re still feeling overwhelmed, overworked, and burnt out. The pandemic has been hard on all of us. Leaders have been asked to do more with less for months.
We’ve all had to adapt our leadership styles to working remotely, and now many of us are navigating an uncertain return to the office, or a new hybrid work reality. Many leaders I speak to are feeling isolated and in dire need of a break.
It may feel like you barely have time to get through your to-do list, but I believe that there’s no better time to pause and reflect than when you’re feeling overwhelmed. I’ve always been a big believer in what I like to call a mid-year leadership gut check, but this year it feels more important than ever. If you pause to reflect on what’s working and what isn’t, you can reorient yourself to how you’re approaching your work. You can rededicate yourself to your highest priorities, and look for ways to delegate or eliminate low-value tasks that are eating up your days.
Here are three things to reflect on in your mid-year leadership gut check:
- Check in with yourself as a leader.
As leaders, we are asked to do more than simply keep our heads above water. We are obligated to step up and do the hard work of holding others accountable for meeting key strategic goals. How have you stepped up so far this year? What are some of the critical leadership decisions you’ve made this year, and what has the impact been?
A lot of the hard work of leadership involves dealing with people issues. Especially in the past 18 months, many employees have been struggling with personal issues like health, isolation, childcare, and more. These issues can be tough to deal with as a leader. How do you demonstrate compassion for your team while still ensuring you all meet your goals? What hard conversations do you need to have in the next six months to ensure that your team stays on track?
- Check in with your team.
Every team has been challenged over the past year. Many have accomplished extraordinary things. And yet we’re all human—we can’t continue to push ourselves in crisis mode forever. Now is the perfect time to evaluate where your team is and what your team members need in order to be successful in the next six months.
How has your team stepped up and worked together to meet your strategic goals this year? What have you done to acknowledge their hard work?
Great teams have a high degree of clarity about what they need to accomplish, and a strong commitment to working together to succeed. Does everyone on the team understand what your top priorities are for the remainder of the year? Do you believe that the whole team is committed to pulling together and doing what it takes? What new resources or new procedures might the team need to succeed?
- Check in with your leadership community.
Isolation has always been a problem for leaders, but during the pandemic, that problem has only become more severe. A strong, supportive community of leaders can go a long way towards combating that isolation.
Do you have a strong community around you? Do you believe your colleagues have your back? Can you go to your peers for support and advice when you need it?
As a leader, you need a few specific things from the community of leaders around you. You need people who you can vent to when you have a bad day. You need people you can be vulnerable with, and talk about the leadership challenges you face. And you need people who will be supportive, collaborative peers.
If you’re missing any of these elements of a strong community of leaders, you are probably not alone. Everyone is struggling with isolation right now. Make a commitment today to reach out to your peers. Identify a few people you believe could serve the specific roles identified here. Challenge yourself to reach out, not just to people who look and think like you, but to some people who might challenge your thinking.
Leadership is hard work. And this year, it’s been harder than ever. Now is a perfect time to step back, reflect, and ask yourself: Have I been an accountable leader so far this year?
Written by Dr. Vince Molinaro, CEO of Leadership Contract, Inc. and author of Accountable Leaders: Inspire a Culture Where Everyone Steps Up, Takes Ownership, and Delivers Results (Wiley).
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